There are so many lessons I gained from theatre. I am a better person, professional, and student because of it. The workplace would benefit tremendously from our school system taking an interest in the arts, rather than frowning upon it. An investment in the arts is an investment in the future – the future of every career.
The discipline and dedication theatre instills is invaluable. No matter where I go in life, I know I will be successful because of what theatre taught me.
Lessons I learned from taking theatre classes:
- Early is on Time, On Time is Late, and Late is You’re Done, Don’t Bother Showing Up.
This one is really important! I may be Cuban, but I do NOT run on Cuban time. This lesson applies to every facet of life– work, social functions, school, etc. When it came to auditions, tardiness was unacceptable; I was taught to always arrive early and prepare– the same should be done for job interviews.
- No Excuses – The Show Must Go On.
In theatre I was taught to take responsibility for my actions and to not make excuses for myself. Sicknesses, stress, whatever it was– they did not excuse you. I knew better than to walk into an audition and say, “Sorry, I’m sick and was up all night blah blah blah… Excuse me if I suck”. In the workplace, no one cares that your tummy hurts or that you’re stressed or that your dog hurt its leg; all they care about is if you are doing your job, so do your job.
- Dress for Success – Dress for the Part You Want.
Appearance is a big deal. Theatre taught me to dress for the job I want. If I can’t picture myself in the part or dress accordingly, no one will see me fit. Going for that big corporate job? Dress for it and wear the most important accessory, confidence.
- You’re Only As Good As Your Last Performance.
This one has always gotten me. It may seem a bit harsh but it sure as hell keeps you grounded. For example, I may have rocked my monologue last week but this week I totally bombed it; I am immediately associated with my most recent performance (same goes for any job). This lesson has always taught me to stay on my A game, and to keep pushing and striving for better. You do not want to be associated with something you totally dropped the ball on. When you mess up, keep on moving and fix it.
- Breath Support and Articulation.
Everyone could have benefited from this. Just imagine how killer work presentations would be with some breath and diction training. My favorite acting teacher, Ms. Gail Garrisan, introduced her students to articulation training with a cork– yes, a cork. In class and at home, we would practice tongue twisters, monologues, and lines from whatever scene we were working on with a cork in our mouth. Honestly, it worked.
- Time Management.
Theatre taught me how to balance multiple things at once. In high school, I learned how to memorize a multitude of lines, stay at rehearsal until late (and wake up the next day at the crack of dawn), study for my academic classes and my arts classes all at once. Balancing college, work, and auditions was simple because of what I learned about managing time. (BTW, I still use an agenda – it’s a necessity)
- Active Listening/Communication Skills.
Face it– many people do not know how to communicate. Most people love to hear themselves talk, do not listen, and are usually focused on what they are going to say next, not on what the other person is saying. Theatre is all about listening and communicating. How can you realistically respond if you do not listen? You can’t.
- Memorization Techniques.
After memorizing 20-minute long monologues/One Person Shows, memorizing information for my classes or work is a breeze. I learned how to memorize a large quantity on a fast approaching deadline, talk about stressful.
- How to Give/Take Constructive Criticism.
Pretty self-explanatory– doing theatre gave me a thick skin. I’m naturally sensitive– hello, water sign over here! I had to constantly remind myself not to take it personally and to, “suck it up, buttercup”. No job review can be worse than being critiqued in front of everyone and having to do dance midterms/finals.
- Being Open and Understanding of People
Last but not least, taking theatre classes makes you a more understanding and open-minded person. Maybe there would be more love and understanding in the world if more people did theatre?